The Crucible By Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller Born in 1915 to Jewish immigrant parents After graduating from the University of Michigan, Miller worked as a freelance writer in New York
Miller’s Life • He had 3 marriages: to Mary Grace Slattery, to Marilyn Monroe, and to Inge Morath • He won a Pulitzer Prize, 2 Drama Circle Critic Awards, 7 Tony Awards, an Obie, the JFK Lifetime Achievement Award, and others • He received honorary doctorates from Harvard University and Oxford University • Miller died Feb. 11, 2005
Miller’s Plays • 1944 The Man Who Had All the Luck opened to horrible reviews • 1947 All My Sonswas an instant success. It was concerned with morality in the face of lies and desperation • 1949 Death of a Salesman, about a little man living a little life, was a Pulitzer Prize winner • 1953 The Crucible, set in Salem in the late 1600s, served as an indictment of McCarthyism of the 1950s
McCarthyism “In the 1950s, McCarthyism meant a brave, patriotic stand against Communism. It had the support of the media and the American people. Now it has come to mean a smear campaign of groundless accusations from which the accused cannot escape, because professions of innocence become admission of guilt and only confessions are accepted.” - Kenneth C. Davis in Don’t Know Much About History
The House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) • The Committee was established in 1937 to investigate subversive activities • It supposedly investigated both left and right wing political groups (investigated Klan activities at one point, but closed the case without finding any evidence of subversive activities. The committee chairman, Martin Dies, was a Klan member)
The House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) • In 1947 the Committee began an investigation of the Hollywood motion picture industry • HUAC required those who testified to admit to Communist party affiliations and to “name names” • HUAC “blacklisted” writers – over 300 writers were barred from working in film
The Hollywood 10 • They were writers accused of Communist activities in 1947 by HUAC • They refused to answer Committee questions, citing the 5th Amendment • They were found guilty of contempt of Congress and sentenced to 6 –12 months in prison
1957: Arthur Miller guilty of contempt US playwright Arthur Miller has been convicted of contempt of Congress. The conviction relates to an investigation last year by the House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) into a Communist conspiracy to misuse American passports. During the investigation 41-year-old Mr Miller, who is married to Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe, refused to reveal the names of alleged Communist writers with whom he had attended five or six meetings in New York in 1947. He was said to be co-operative in all other aspects of the hearing but told the committee his conscience would not permit him to give the names of others and bring possible trouble to them. Arthur Miller had close associations with the Communist party
1958: Arthur Miller cleared of contempt Washington's Court of Appeals overturned playwright Arthur Miller's conviction for contempt of Congress after a two-year legal battle. In May of 1957, a judge convicted Miller for refusing to tell the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) the names of alleged Communist writers with whom he attended five or six meetings in New York in 1947. He had been questioned by the HUAC in 1956 over a supposed Communist conspiracy to misuse American passports and willingly answered all questions about himself. But the playwright, married to actress Marilyn Monroe, refused to name names on a point of principle saying: "I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him.“
Arthur Miller later said his trial only went ahead because he had refused one of the members of the HUAC permission to be photographed with Marilyn Monroe.
Miller on The Crucible "A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence." The Crucible serves as an allegory for the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
ALLEGORY Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance.Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Symbols and Motifs • Crucible • Poppet • “God’s icy wind” • “my name” • Golden candlesticks • Look for other motifs as you read
The word “crucible” has many meanings and connotations, including • A container that resists heat • A melting pot • A fire or furnace • A trial or difficult ordeal
A Poppet is a small doll • It was given to Elizabeth as a peace offering • The doll was corrupted by Abigail and used as a weapon against Elizabeth
Theme Development Trace the following themes as you read Hypocrisy Guilt Revenge Hysteria Authority Integrity and courage Judgment Power
Characters of the court
Reverend John Hale Church authority on demonology
Deputy Governor Danforth • Presiding judge at Salem and highest authority • Supremely confident • Represents combined authority of church and state
Judge Hathorne • Danforth’s cruel, vengeful deputy • Fawns on Danforth • Contemptuous of the townspeople
Lesser officers of the court • Ezekial Cheever • a tailor appointed as a officer of the court • Marshall Herrick